F&I Managers are important leaders in nearly every auto dealership. On any given day, you can find them trying to complete deals, boost profits, overcome customer objections, finish (error-free) paperwork quickly, and keep up with compliance on all fronts. The job can be hectic and high-pressure, but also incredibly rewarding.
If you’re an F&I Manager, none of this is a secret to you. You know how busy you are and how tough your job can be. However, are you doing certain things that are making your job more difficult? Is there a chance your business office etiquette is responsible for the objections, distractions, and awkward conversations that make work more difficult?
F&I managers: How to improve your business office etiquette
Don’t think of these tips as more things you have to add to your “to do” list. They’re meant to serve as helpful reminders of how small changes can make a big difference.
1. Create a professional environment.
When you’re busy all the time, and there’s a never-ending stream of paperwork on your desk, it can be tough to stop and look around for a minute. You need to, though—and take a good hard look at your office. Is your office representing you accurately to customers and employees?
Make sure your space is clean and keep the piles of paperwork to a minimum. Decorate your office appropriately and create an environment that reflects how you want your customers to feel or respond to you.
2. Stay away from high-conflict topics.
It’s good to have strong opinions about things like politics, religion, and civil rights—but when it comes to proper business office etiquette, leave your opinions at home. Keep the conversation light, friendly, and professional. Also, avoid any “negative talk.” Even if you’re trying to bond with a customer over a common gripe, you don’t want them to develop the perception that you’re anything but upbeat and optimistic.
3. Avoid offensive smells.
How often do you heat up last night’s leftovers to eat at your desk? Or run outside for a smoke break before meeting with a customer? You may not think twice about things like this, but offensive smells (like re-heated curry chicken or cigarette smoke) can leave a bad taste in your customers’ mouths.
Don’t just avoid offensive smells, though—think about how you can make your office smell better. Smell can have an enormous subliminal impact on a person’s purchasing decisions, so if you can get the right scent in your office, you may just start making more money, too. Bonus business office etiquette tip: Don’t eat in front of customers. It’s unprofessional.
4. Don’t make your customers wait.
Some F&I Managers like to pretend they are the great and powerful Oz and force customers to wait to meet them in person. You sit in your office and shuffle around paperwork and eventually, give the salesperson the go-ahead to send the customer to your office. Cut it out and instead, think about how you would want people to treat you in the same situation.
Walk to the salesperson’s desk to introduce yourself to the customer and shake his or her hand. Let them know upfront what you do and what you’re going to help them accomplish. Offer to get them a drink or snack, since F&I paperwork can take a little while. The bottom line? The basis of good business office etiquette is always respecting your customers’ time.
Business Office Etiquette Extends Beyond the Dealership Walls
Some F&I Managers think the post-sale follow-up is only for salespeople, but it’s just polite to keep in touch. Use your automotive dealership CRM to create email templates and set up ways to follow up with your customers. Make sure they’re happy with their financing and any add-ons they purchased, and ask if there’s anything else you can do to help them. Remember, a new car is an enormous purchase and a big commitment, so just to receive that little follow-up note can make quite a difference for a customer.
-Previously printed in Auto Raptor on September 20, 2017.